A stuffed pepper provides an impressive entree that can be varied by making different types of filling. This Italian-style version, with savory bulgur, sundried tomatoes, and a mix of finely diced vegetables, is terrific!
2 ½ cups cooked bulgur (or rice, quinoa, or other grain)
4 whole bell peppers (any color), cored/seeded, and cut in half vertically
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
6 oz white mushrooms (or brown Baby Bella), rinsed and diced
½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups chopped kale
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp tamari or Bragg Aminos
2 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground fennel seed
¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional, for cheesy flavor)
Tomato-based pasta sauce (about 1 ½ cups, divided)
Garnish: fresh basil or parsley; pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds
Place a large pot with about 4 inches of water on the stove to boil. Put the cored and halved peppers in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain peppers in a colander or remove from water with tongs. Let cool while you prepare the stuffing.
Chop the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion by hand or in a food processor. Put chopped vegetables in a sauté pan with ¼ cup water (no oil needed) and start cooking over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add a bit more water if it gets too dry or begins to stick. Add mushrooms, kale, and sundried tomatoes to the sauté pan. Cook several more minutes until soft.
Add pre-cooked bulgur, Worcestershire, tamari or Bragg Aminos, dried herbs, and (optional) nutritional yeast to vegetable mix in pan. Mix to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add roughly ½ cup tomato sauce to build more flavor.
Put ½ cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a flat baking dish (9” x 13ʺ works well) and spread around. The dish should be large enough to hold 8 pepper halves lying flat.
Stuff each pepper half with bulgur-vegetable mixture and place in pan. When all peppers are full, top each with a small spoonful of the remaining sauce. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Add chopped fresh herbs and/or nuts on top before serving.
Note: Depending on the size of the peppers and the other dishes being served at the meal, you may want to serve either a half pepper per person (serves 8) or two halves (serves 4). You can also make this dish with four whole peppers, which make an impressive presentation on the plate when served. If you plan to serve as whole peppers, look for peppers with a balanced/even base so they stand upright on the plate.